Joseph Geissler: Planting Roots in Prairie

Joseph Geißler was born in Baden about 1836 in immigrated to Franklin County, Ohio no later than 1856. 1856 marks the year that he went from being a single man with no other family in the county to a married man with in-laws and property.

Planting Roots in Prairie

Before completing his naturalization process in 1858, Joseph experienced several life-changing events: he married, purchased property, and became a father.


At the age of twenty, Joseph obtained a license to marry 17-year-old Caroline Mäck dated 16 February 1856. Their differing faiths resulted in their marriage not being performed in either’s church. Joseph practiced the Catholic religion and Caroline was Lutheran which prevented their wedding from being held in either church. As such, they were united in marriage by the Justice of Peace Thomas O’Hara on 19 February 1856.i At the time of their nuptials, it is believed that Joseph had already started his naturalization process. Once complete, Caroline would also become a naturalized citizen because of this marriage.

Jospeh Gesley and Caroline Mack Marriage license
Marriage License

On 18 March  1838 Caroline Mäck was born in the small village of Gillershiem located in the Kingdom of Hanover.  Hanover was located to the northeast of Baden on the northern side of Hessen. Caroline was potentially the sole surviving child of Heinrich Mäck and his first wife, Johanne Christine Tinnapell. Heinrich set out from Gillershiem with his second wife, Christina Elizabeth Mack (a cousin) and three additional children. They journeyed to America with fellow townsmen, the Pueseckers, in 1854.ii Of the Macks, only Caroline, Heinrich, Christina, and a step-brother Heinrich Ludwig seem to have survived the journey across the Atlantic Ocean to Baltimore, Maryland and then by rail and/or canal to Franklin County, Ohio where a growing German settlement was organized.

Religious Associations

Religion played and important part of Joseph and Caroline’s life, so it’s important to note the story of their church affiliation. Joseph Geißler was Catholic and a member of the Holy Cross congregation. According to the Holy Cross Catholic Church website, this was the first Catholic church in Columbus, Ohio.iii The parish was founded in 1833 and dedicated in 1848.

“From a handful of parishioners in 1837, when construction began on the city’s first Catholic Church with a small number of early German Catholic families, through a burgeoning influx of immigrants from Germany and Ireland after 1848, Holy Cross became the center of Catholic Columbus.”

– A Brief History of Holy Cross Church

This first Catholic Church of Columbus was located at the corner of S. 5th Street and E. Rich Street, downtown. This is the place where Joseph worshiped but was not able to marry his bride because she attended the St. James Lutheran Church.

St. James was located on the west side of Columbus in Norwich Township. This church was founded in 1847 by a small group of German immigrants. Initially only served the German immigrant population as services were only performed in that language.  As detailed in their articles of confession, they followed the writings of the Evangelic, Lutheran Church.

St James Lutheran Church charter members
Signatures of the founding members of the St James Lutheran Church of Norwich Township,
Franklin County, Ohio and additional parishioners as they joined the congregation

After Joseph’s marriage, Joseph Geißler signed the church’s constitution on behalf of his wife Caroline to continue her membership in the church. This document was started 4 August 1847, but Joseph wasn’t married to Caroline at that time. Thus, the signature was continually added to as new members joined the congregation.

Joseph Geißler signs this document with the note “in the name of his wife, Caroline nee Mäck). Below his name is that of Heinrich Mäck. Heinrich is Caroline’s father and Joseph’s father-in-law. (Incidentally, this is one case of Joseph signing his own name, thus this would be the most accurate version of his name.

Close up of St James Lutheran Church Constitution
Close up of the St James Lutheran Church constitution.
Joseph Geißler  listed first Heinrich Mack listed second

Although her membership continued at St. James, their subsequent children would all be baptized at Holy Cross Catholic Church. Holy Cross was known as Heilig Kreuz with Monsignor Joseph A Hakel as pastor and Father Richard J Welch as assistant pastor.

Deed Facts

Shortly after their marriage, Joseph Geißler (spelled Guisler), father-in-law Heinrich Mäck (here spelled Maeck) Jr, and a third man Karl Pusecker purchased three adjacent properties of ten acres each in Prairie Township, Franklin County, Ohio.

Partial Image of Deed of Sale in Franklin County, Ohio. (I need to find someone to make a copy of the entire deed)

They purchased the land from James A Kinnard.

1856 Prairie, Ohio Plat Map
Property on 1856 plat map for Franklin County, Ohio. Pueseker, Mack, and Guisler properties 
in middle of the image to the right of the name Kinnard

The 1856 plat maps, shows the property adjacent to the railway.iv

This plat map shows other neighbors as A Strunkenberg and Tenapell. These families are connected with the Macks and Pueseckers. The Strukenberg and Tinnapells are also from Bavaria and arrived earlier in Ohio. It seems logical that these earlier families told the Macks and Pueseckers how to Ohio and would have helped them get settled upon their arrival. Perhaps these two families also had befriended Joseph through German associations in the German Village of Columbus, Ohio and extended their help to settle him as well.

Within a decade, the three families would sell the land back to Mr. Kinnard for various reasons.

i. Family Search, “Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958” database, (http:/ : Entry for Joseph Geissler, 16 February 1856
ii., Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1948 (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006.Original data – Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, Maryland, 1891-1909. Microfilm Publication T844. RG 85. 150 rolls. National Archives, Washington, D.C.Baltimore, Maryl).
iii.”A Brief History of Holy Cross Church” Holy Cross Catholic Church. 204 S. Fifth St., Columbus OH 43215. (accessed 14 February 2011)
iv.  Franklin County, Ohio, 1872 Historical Atlas and plat maps: years 1842, 1856, 1883 Index (N.p.: n.p., n.d.), Available at the Columbus Metropolitan Library, call no. 734842.
Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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